Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good Thought

"She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. we did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and a away she flew." - Jerry Spinelli, "Stargirl"

image courtesy of From Within

I believe there is a force in this world that lives beneath the surface, something primitive and wild that awakens when you need an extra push just to survive, like wildflowers that bloom after fire turns the forest black. Most people are afraid of it, and keep it buried deep inside themselves. But there will always be a few people who have the courage to love what is untamed inside us. - From ‘Katie’ in the movie “Flicka”

(today's "Good Thought" is a good thought sandwich. good thoughts = the bread slices, cool picture = the meat & cheese. eat up, ya'll - it's good for you. thoughts are like food. we can choose to feed ourselves with the best of the best to keep ourselves full & functioning or the not-so-good stuff that leaves us drained, tired and in pain. it's up to us.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons..

...make a citron pressé !

my snazzy lemon juicer (Similar)

on a hot day nothing beats a cold glass of seltzer water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. the star of this post is known as a 'citron pressé' in France (literally, pressed lemon) and is all the rage there. add a sprinkle of some evaporated cane juice and a krinkly straw and you've got yourself a sweet summer treat.

stay cool and enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nature's First Green

Shirt (Gap, $5 Similar) Skirt (Foreign Bazaar, $20 Similar) Shoes (Jeffrey Campbell) Lipstick (Maybelline Fuchsia Fever)

i feel very Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us in this skirt...

i got it at this place in Philly called Foreign Bazaar where the smell of incense nearly knocks you out as soon as you walk in. (my skirt STILL smells like a mixture of sandalwood and lavender.) i love visiting it during my lunch break at work because i feel like i am taking a mini vacation far away from my grey cubicle into another world saturated in burning vetiver with golden Buddhas, saris and crystals covering the walls. 

p.s. - the song is from the collaborative cd "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant (singer from Led Zeppelin) and Allison Krauss 

p.p.s. - "Nature's First Green" is the first three words in the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay"- i thought the green in these pictures was so vibrant it reminded me of his poem about how the first green of Spring has almost an ethereal golden hue to it...

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Best Flourless Chocolate Cake

Green & Black 70% and Ghiradelli's Twilight Delight 72%

2 ripe bananas

orange zest

everything you'll need

6 ramekins

i recently made these bombtastic dark chocolate souffle cakes. they were the best thing i have ever eaten in my life. if you ask me there is no better combination is this world than orange & dark chocolate (well, ok maybe red wine & dark chocolate...)  and actually, i paired this dessert with La Vendimia rioja (smooth Spanish wine with little acidity)

if you haven't yet caught on, i'm in the "dessert and wine/champagne" camp of people who don't think you have to choose either or. in fact, i am that way in most areas of my life. i hate to choose. if given the option i'd like to have both - i'd like to have everything. my mom recently told me a story about when i was younger - probably about 3 or 4 - and went to sit on Santa's lap. after getting up and walking back to my mom, she asked me what i told him. this is what i said to her:

"i told him i wanted everything."

...and so little has changed

anyway, here are the ingredients you will need:
some cooking spray (i love coconut oil spray)
6 ounces 70 percent dark chocolate
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup roasted sweet potato
1/4 cup honey
1 whole egg
3 egg whites

and here's what ya need to do. get crackin! literally, with those eggs...

- preheat oven to 350.
- arrange 8 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups on a large baking sheet and spray with cooking spray  
- combine chocolate, orange zest and vanilla extract in a medium bowl over hot boiling water. whisk, whisk, whisk until chocolate is completely melted.
- puree bananas, sweet potato and honey until smooth in food processor or blender 
- remove melted chocolate from heat and fold over banana puree and 1 whole egg
- mix well
- whip egg whites until soft peak.
- slowwwwwlllllyyyy fold egg whites into chocolate mixture
- spoon into your ramekins, 3/4 full 
- bake for approximately 6-7 minutes, (or until the smell makes your eyes water), remove and serve warm
- and as always, enjoy :) 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good Thought

Choose to believe in your own myth
Your own glamour
Your own spell

A young woman who does this (even if she is just pretending)
has everything....
~ Francesca Lia Block

image taken from essential oil bazaar
the picture above is a lotus flower. the 'lotus' is a symbolic flower in Hindu iconography. according to Wikipedia, "the growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise."

so are you getting that? this flower starts in the icky mud of a pond, grows up through the water (while miraculously thermoregulating its own temperature) and blossoms beautifully at the surface... *hint: this is a metaphor, be the lotus.

"One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto [Love], is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water." - Bhagavad Gita 5.10

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dolce Far Niente

homemade gluten-free vanilla cupcakes from the Babycakes cookbook (with broken sugar cookies to fill in the empty spaces)

following the Hello, Cupcake cookbook, I piped tinted frosting through a ziplock bag to look like noodles

meatballs: ferrero rocher hazelnut chocolates / spaghetti sauce: sugar-free strawberry preserves

add grated white chocolate to look like parmesan cheese

dolce far niente is my favorite italian phrase. according to this clip from the Eat, Pray, Love movie (the book is amazing by the way. read it now.), it roughly translates into "the sweetness of doing nothing..."

ok so, it actually has nothing at all to do with the photos or the recipe or the fact that these are cupcakes made to look like spaghetti. but as i was coming up with a title of this post my mind went hmmm... spaghetti cupcakes... spaghetti... italy... italian phrases...   you see, i am an ignorant american who associates pizza and spaghetti with italy.

but back to the cupcakes. i made these over the summer with my cousin Victoria who was absolutely instrumental when she saved me from a major emotional meltdown small mishap after I accidentally added too much baking powder to the recipe. the cupcakes survived (if not a bit chewier and more muffin-y than cupcake-y) and so did i, thanks to her. (Tor, if you're reading this - mad props.) the Babycakes vanilla cupcake recipe turned out to be delicious. i'd never made homemade cupcakes before and let me tell you... you can taste the difference. fresh meyer lemon zest and vanilla extract explode in your mouth in a way that the powdery chemicals from a store-bought box could never do.

i had almost as much fun decorating the cupcakes as i did reading and re-reading my Hello, Cupcake and What's New, Cupcake? cookbooks (visit their site, these people are geniuses.)

we served these little pieces of art at a family 4th of july party and they were a smash hit. we all enjoyed them with a small bottle of Veuve Clicquot split between about 6 of us (everyone got about two sips worth) and watched as my other cousin Andrew set off fireworks that he got while visiting the South. luckily, no boat covers were set aflame nor party boats forced to capsize as has been custom in years past....    (i'm not kidding, this has happened. but i'll save those stories for another post.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

American Sundays

Shirt (thrifted), Sweater (H&M, old), Skirt ($26.80, Body Central), Bag (Jcrew, old), Shoes (See By Chloe via anthropologie), Earrings (thrifted)

salute your shorts...

my brother told me this picture looked creepy... i like it

crouching tiger, hidden dragon pic that my mom insisted I put up

don't i look so nantucket in these pictures? little do you know they are actually taken in front of my house in Pennsylvania by my mom. which is pretty lucky for me because we live on a quiet street and don't get many people driving by...

i found this polka-dot Ann Taylor silk shirt from a thrift store in Philly and got it for... wait for it... $3 dollars!!!!!!!!!!  can you believe that, people?? $3 dollars and it is in perfect condition.

the thrifted earrings were given to me by my mom's friend, Janet, who is a MASTER at thrifting. i'm not kidding you, she is unreal. i hope to feature her and her ebay account on here in the near future. she has such a talented eye, i can't wait for you to see her treasures.

the SeeByChloe shoes (via anthropologie) were kind of expensive but that's the great thing about style... when you mix expensive pieces with cheaper ones you can afford to play around. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quick Tip to Reduce Stress: Child's Pose

*deep sigh*
child's pose, also known as balasana (bala meaning 'child' in sanskrit), is probably one of the most restorative and relaxing of all yoga poses. it reminds the body of what it felt like like to be completely at ease in the womb curled safely in fetal position with heart gently beating on thighs. it calms the brain while gently stretching the thighs, hips and ankles. according to yoga journal, since we don't often consciously breathe fully into the back of our torso this pose is a great way to isolate deep full breaths between the back shoulder blades. (it's amazing when you realize how much space there actually is back there to breathe!) play around with the pose and what feels best for your body. spreading the knees wider apart may allow your chest to sink deeper, giving your low back a different kind of a stretch. you can also do a variation of the pose with your arms over your head and palms resting on the floor as seen here.

to get into the pose...

  1. start in a kneeling position
  2. sink your butt to rest on your heels
  3. spread your knees to match the width of your mat (keeping your big toes touching)
  4. lay your belly onto your thighs, resting your forehead on your mat
  5. you can either float your arms out in front of you with palms on the mat, or lay your arms back along your thighs with your palms facing up
  6. breathe deep full belly breaths and enjoy

Family Favorite: Black Bean Mango Salsa

(best after marinating overnight)


1 mango peeled and diced into small cubes (champagne mango is my favorite)
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 (or 2) can black beans (drained, rinsed)
1 bell pepper
1 tomato
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
dash of hot sauce
squirt of lime juice

add this to sauteed fish (lemon sole, yum!) with some homemade guacamole, whole wheat tortillas, carmelized onions & shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese and you've got yourself a full-blown fiesta in your mouth. so make it now! arrriba! arriba! (yep, i did just roll my tongue on the roof of my mouth for that one.)

i have made this salsa so many times i could do it with my eyes closed. actually that would be quite dangerous considering that cutting a mango is like trying to slice a mini football slathered in vaseline...

but seriously. i'm warning you, if you make this once for anyone they will beg you to make it again. and again. and again.

The Birthday I Almost Forgot...

raspberry custard-cream shortcake from Strawberry Bakery that Emily got me

the beautiful table spread Elizabeth & her mom made (aren't they the best??)
so. i just turned 23. and by just i mean 3 months ago. i have to keep reminding myself of this because for some reason i keep forgetting. like, the other day after a relaxing yoga class when a woman in my teacher training asked me how old i was. this is exactly how the conversation went down:

lady: so, have you finished your essay yet?

me (blissed out from savasana): uhhhhh... yeah. no. actually no. i just got done college so writing essays is not my favorite thing to do right now.

lady: ohh, my daughter just finished college. you are probably her age... how old are you?

me (blank stare)

awkward pause.

me (serious): i... uh, i have no idea.

am i 20? 38? 13? now at this point, i begin to panic.

me: ummm.... 20? 22. no, i might be 23. no i'm 22.... you know, i honestly cannot remember.

as soon as we get to the main lobby, i politely nod at this poor lady (who is staring at me with a worried smile) and dash to find my phone. i begin to dial my mom.  no, i think to myself, she'll schedule me for an MRI as soon as i get home. instead i call a trusted friend who i know will not worry but merely realize it's just one of those many moments in which i have only lost my mind temporarily. my friend, who at first thinks i am kidding, confirms to me that i am in fact 23. phew. crisis averted.

this particular lack of awareness of 'self' has been happening to me more and more after yoga classes where i forget - almost completely - about myself as the 'self' i appear to be to others. you know, like the usual markers of what makes someone a person, such as age, appearance, name, etc. but the more i do yoga, the more i breathe fully into my body and into the present moment the question of "who am i" begins to bend and becomes increasingly harder to answer. i am a sister, a daughter, a 23 year old, a friend, a college graduate, a woman... but deeper than all of this is simply that i am. i am breathing. i am feeling my toes on the mat. i am feeling my belly expand with each in-breath. and all of those qualities like age and gender and hair color and job... they seem so insignificant when compared to the fact that there is this breath filling up my lungs, my stomach.  i become stomach. i become lungs. i become breath.